Ecker Center Names Dr. Daphne Sandouka Chief Executive Officer
Ecker Center for Mental Health and the Board of Directors are pleased to announce that Dr. Daphne Sandouka has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO Karen Beyer retired in June after serving for 19 years at the helm.
Board Chairman Alan Kirk stated: “We knew we already had a strong internal candidate in Daphne. But as we conducted our nationwide search it became more evident that what we had right here was the best. Dr. Sandouka is strong clinically and understands the economy of running a non-profit.”
Since joining Ecker in 2014 as the Director of Therapy Services, Sandouka quickly demonstrated her leadership skills and promoted to Clinical Director in 2017. She has successfully represented the agency with mental health funders, functions and fundraising events as well as facilitated Management team meetings. In addition, her responsibilities have included: supervising the Nursing, PEP and Crisis Residential, Therapy, PSR and PAS departments.
Dr. Sandouka graduated from Eastern Illinois in 1999 with a BA in Psychology. In 2001, she earned her MS in Counselor Education from Western Illinois University followed by her E.D. In Counselor Education and Supervision from Northern Illinois University in 2007. In addition to achieving her LCPC license, in 2009 became certified as a Sexual Assault Counselor Advocate. Daphne fulfilled the requirements of the Elgin Area Leadership Academy, earlier this year.
Dr. Sandouka said, “I am very excited to accept this role as CEO. I am wholeheartedly invested in the mission of the Ecker Center and have an unwavering commitment and dedication to the betterment of our clients.”
Karen Beyer, CEO to Retire from Ecker Center for Mental Health
Ecker’s CEO Karen Beyer announced her retirement will occur June 30, 2019 after nearly two decades of leadership at the Ecker Center for Mental Health in Elgin, IL. No replacement has been named.
Karen’s 53 year career as a human services champion begin in 1966 as a child welfare caseworker. In 1967, she joined Lutheran Social Services of Illinois as a therapist. Beyer earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Loyola University in 1969 and quickly rose to a leadership role as the Clinical Director for Family Service Association of the Greater Elgin Area. Karen became the Director of Health and Human Services for the Village of Hoffman Estates in 1983 and earned her second Master’s degree from Roosevelt University in Public Administration in 1992. In 1993, she was hired as the Executive Director of The Larkin Center where she increased fundraising and developed new programs.
In her former private counseling practice that specialized in marital counseling, Karen observed that couples who had decided to divorce amicably, often returned to her practice as single individuals embroiled in disputes with their ex-spouses. As a result Karen sought a new way of preparing individuals for life after divorce. She became one of the first individuals in Illinois trained in divorce mediation and practiced divorce mediation with an attorney partner for several years.
Karen was the therapist who successfully defended her client’s right to privacy in the historic US Supreme Court case Jaffee v Redmond and the Village of Hoffman Estates. As a result of her work with the extremely traumatized police officer that resulted in the Supreme Court case, Karen became an advocate for employee assistance programs to offer counseling services for police officers experiencing tragic events in the line of duty.
Beyer joined the Ecker Center in 2000 as the Executive Director, and earned her third Master’s degree in Business Administration. Ecker Center’s Assistant Clinical Director, Victoria Gesinger said, “Karen never gives up! She has led us through so many difficult financial crises with immense state budget cuts and the more recent crisis where there was no budget at all! Our hearts would bleed watching other community agencies experience significant layoffs, turning away clients and at times shutting their doors completely. We have been so fortunate to have a leader such as Karen to see us through these difficult situations with little impact to client care and employees.”
In honor of Karen Beyer’s 53 years of dedicated tireless human services work in the community, Ecker Center has created the ‘Karen Beyer Circle’ fund to acknowledge her distinguished career, the impact her work has had on our community and to ensure that the center will continue to provide services in the face of increasing financial challenges. The Karen Beyer Circle is a group of friends, family and coworkers united in their dedication to a common purpose: which is to insure persons with mental illness have access to needed services. All donations received by Friday June 28th, 2019 will be recognized on Karen’s final day before her retirement begins.
The Ecker Center is grateful for Karen Beyer and wish her well.
Ecker Center Grateful for Mental Health Champions
Ecker Center joins NAMI Kane County North in celebrating the lives of mental health champion: Katie Petray and mental health therapist/administrator David Hughes, LCSW.
Katie Petray was an outspoken advocate for people with mental illness. Her passion was threefold: to obtain increased national and state funding for mental illness, to stamp out the ‘stigma’ attached to mental illness, and to educate and assist people with mental illness and their families. She wrote letters to newspaper editors and politicians, visited Congressmen and women on the Hill, and spoke at local, state, and national conferences of the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI). A dedicated volunteer, she was instrumental in bringing the NAMI national Family-to-Family Education Program into Illinois, and served as the Illinois State Director for 14 years. Katie was the national NAMI video chairman for 10 years. She was one of four founding members of the NAMI Kane County group and became its first president in 1987. Katie served as president of the Ecker Center Board as well as a board member. She was a member of the Elgin State Hospital Human Rights Committee and also enjoyed serving on the Awareness Committee for the Kane County Mental Health Council. Katie passed away on May 2, 2019.
The Center is grateful for the contributions of David L. Hughes, LCSW who passed away on May 4, 2019. David was a therapist at the Ecker Center for 21 years and an administrator at the Elgin Mental Health Center for many years. He also served at other social service agencies in the Fox River Valley. David’s long career in mental health counseling enriched many lives with his wise council. He will long be remembered for his kindness, patience and dry wit.
CEO Karen Beyer said, “The Ecker Center expresses enormous gratitude for these two mental health champions who improved the lives of so many. Mental wellness is an important goal and we are stronger because of Katie and David’s contributions during their lifetime.”
2019 Ecker Center Wishes for Wellness Brunch and Awards
Gretchen Vapnar, Community Crisis Center
Outstanding Elgin Non-Profit Leader
Gary Kosnoff, OneDigital
Friend of Ecker Center
Lina Schiess Garibay
Outstanding Ecker Employee Award